Study: flu shots don't save seniors' lives

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Results of a study covering three decades of data on flu shots suggest that having seniors vaccinated has not saved lives.

"There is a sense that we're all going to die if we don't get the flu shot," said the study's lead author, Lone Simonsen, a senior epidemiologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, MD. "Maybe that's a little much."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the National Institutes of Health research wouldn't be enough to shift its recommendation that the top emphasis be on seniors. Some experts say greater emphasis should be given to schoolchildren.

Annual flu shots have been recommended for people 65 and older for around 40 years. Vaccination rates among seniors have tripled over the last 20 years, to about 65%. But Simonsen and colleagues said they could find no corresponding decrease in death rates. Their study results were published in Monday's edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.